Aug 8, 2022 - News

Sports betting rollout could take a while

Illustration of a foam finger holding hundred dollar bills
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't bet on Massachusetts rushing to launch its sports wagering industry.

Driving the news: The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which met virtually Thursday, is researching how other states set up sports betting. Commissioners were quick to point out that the process might take longer than some would like.

  • "I've seen some quotes in the newspaper from the public, that they hope to have this up and running in a very, very short amount of time ... from my point of view, this is going to take a little longer than people probably anticipate," commissioner Brad Hill said during the meeting.
  • Hill's outlook tempers expectations by Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues, who said after the bill approving sports betting passed last week that he could see it being in action sometime in the fall.

Why it matters: Sports fans have been waiting for Massachusetts to legalize betting for years, and they're eager to start putting their money on the line.

  • Lawmakers claim the state would make at least $60 million in tax revenue from the new industry, which includes some level of collegiate sports betting.

Yes, but: Commissioners say their priority is to get the rollout right, even if it frustrates would-be gamblers.

  • The process for establishing regulations and finalizing their language takes time, Hill said — not to mention the time it takes to solicit applications for licenses and vet those applicants.

Details: The bill allows the commission to issue temporary sports betting licenses while it undergoes applicant suitability reviews.

  • But first staffers plan to look into how other states used temporary licenses in their own ramp-ups of legal sports betting.

What's next: No one can start implementing the practice until Gov. Charlie Baker signs the legislation, which remains on his desk.

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